Sandomir On The Phony Phillips Press Conferences

Posted in Sports TV at 1:59 am by

The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir joins the condemning chorus of Will Leitch, Bob Raissman and virtually everyone else who watched Steve Phillips pretend to be a big league GM on “SportsCenter” last week. And while said segments are impossible to defend, I prefer to dwell on the positive. For instance, ESPN has announced no plans for a 4th series of “Dream Job”.

There they were, some of ESPN™s best reporters Jeremy Schaap, Sal Paolantonio, Karl Ravech and Buster Olney and a studio full of extras eagerly standing and raising their hands to ask questions as if Babe Ruth had walked onto the podium and not Phillips, an ESPN analyst whom the Mets fired in mid-2003 as their general manager. There were even cameras flashing, for some type of phony visual verisimilitude, to convey the gravitas of these well-attended œevents, which were taped during a single day in a Bristol, Conn., studio.

Why didn™t someone ask an uninformed question, an inevitable event at virtually every news conference I™ve ever attended? And, as if many crucial areas on inquiry were left uncovered in Friday™s showing, the assembled horde shouted questions at Phillips as he left the podium, all seemingly channeling Sam Donaldson shouting questions at Ronald Reagan.

On Friday™s œSportsCenter, ESPN followed the final Phillips œnews conference with Dick Vitale (above) playing himself speaking to soldiers at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Whatever you think of the war in Iraq, Vitale™s admiration for the soldiers and his prayers for their safe future were real. The juxtaposition was jarring: counterfeit news conferences clashing with an over-the-top basketball analyst™s genuine and heartfelt emotions.

I happened to catch Vitale’s address to the troops and while I don’t question his sincerity one iota, he’s an intensely creepy individual — surely the men & women of the US Air Force have been through enough without Dickie V’s “don’t thank me, THANK YOU!” hystrionics.

Then again, not everyone has a subtle touch.

Weighing The Manny Options

Posted in Baseball at 1:17 am by

Recalling the 2002 furor in Cleveland when Bartolo Colon was traded, the Boston Globe’s Gordon Edes examines what’s to be gained and lost in the Red Sox trading Manny Ramirez.

Can the Red Sox transition and contend simultaneously? Their fans will expect nothing less, especially when they’ll be shelling out $95 for a field box seat in 2006 and $275 a pop to sit in the new suites replacing the .406 club. John W. Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Tom Werner, with considerably greater revenue streams available to them than Dolan had, understand that if fans perceive a Ramírez trade as merely a way to slash payroll, the backlash will be considerable. Theo Epstein often expressed an awareness that in Boston, you’re not allowed to step back for a year or two to reload.

Any deal for Ramírez must bring significant returns for the future. Before he traded Colon, Shapiro made an unsuccessful trade of Alomar to the Mets; outfielder Matt Lawton was a disappointment and top prospect Alex Escobar suffered a serious knee injury from which he never fully recovered. The goals of that trade were a little different, made when the Indians thought they could contend and rebuild at the same time. The Colon trade was a full concession to the future. One of the Indians scouts who hand-picked the prospects they got in that deal was Tony LaCava, who is now with the Blue Jays and turned down an invitation to interview for the Sox GM job.

The Sox don’t have the luxury to fall back into full rebuilding mode. They need a Ramírez trade, and the money they save by losing Ramírez’s salary, to fill some of their immediate holes: first base, second base, outfield, bullpen. But the true value of trading Ramírez is making sure they identify, and acquire, the kind of premium talent that will help them the rest of the decade. A Lastings Milledge (Mets), perhaps, or a Brandon Wood (Angels). If not, keep him.


Devil Rays Hire Maddon

Posted in Baseball at 7:43 pm by

ESPN, the Tampa Tribune. Pravda and Cat Fancy are all reporting the Devil Rays will name former Angels coach Joe Maddon (shown above, getting ready to take his clothes off) as their new manager.

More details to follow after the 8pm showing of “Get Rich Or Die Trying”.

(UPDATE : Details culled from the Tampa Tribune’s Scott Carter.

In their extensive six-week search to replace Tampa native Lou Piniella, who stepped down in October after accepting a $2.2-million buyout of the final season of his original four-year contract, the Rays chose Maddon over John McLaren, Piniella’s longtime associate and Tampa Bay’s bench coach the past three seasons.

The offer is believed to be for three years and financial terms have yet to be finalized between the Rays and Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero.

Maddon’s hiring is the latest move by the Rays’ new regime to cut ties with the past and start over completely with a fresh outlook. Maddon, a veteran Angels coach who has spent the past six seasons as Mike Scioscia’s bench coach, is expected to arrive in the Tampa Bay area in the next 24 hours for a Tuesday press conference.

Maddon has built a solid reputation over the years for his baseball acumen and use of computers to analyze players and trends in the game.

Which explains, presumably, why he wasn’t under consideration for the Dodger job. Nor was Mike Schmidt a finalist in Tampa.)

Eddie Guerrero, RIP

Posted in Professional Wrestling at 6:13 pm by

I’m sure there’s a business with a higher mortality rate, but other than suicide bombers, I can’t quite come up with the answer right this moment.

Todd Martin’s comments from Wrestling Observer Newsletter.com.

Roberts On The NBA’s Age Limit

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts at 5:55 pm by

This year’s high school seniors are the first graduating class for which entry to the NBA next season is not an option. The New York Times’ Selena Roberts , though hardly the first to cite the differing standards, does so convincingly just the same. Though I’m not sure about the part where she refers to “campus gals who aspire to be Carolina Panters cheerleaders” — Phil Mushnick just called, he wants his moral outrage back.

In the leadup to last week’s national signing day, some college coaches must have felt forced to all but sign one-year promotional deals with talented teenagers who might have been bound for the National Basketball Association if not for the new age-eligibility requirement.

It’s 19, not 18 anymore. It’s one year of college, not a prom-and-done proposition now. It is an ill-conceived piece of phony feel-good legislation on every level.

A year to mature, a season to grow, the N.B.A. caretakers will tell you. As if a freshman year is an introduction to adulthood and responsibility instead of beer bongs and campus gals who aspire to be Carolina Panthers cheerleaders.

As if it would have been better for good-citizen LeBron James to put on a freshman 15 rather than for Carmelo Anthony to put in a cameo at Syracuse before appearing in the underground “Snitch” DVD as an N.B.A. player.

The Pacers’ Jermaine O’Neal eloquently described the age limit last year as an unconstitutional rule directed at black athletes. Together, with the recent Mister Rogers dress code, the N.B.A. is precariously close to being perceived as a league trying to brush itself with a whitening system.

While the National Hockey League promotes the wholesome Sidney Crosby, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association benefits from Michelle Wie’s pro decision on her Sweet 16th, the N.B.A. is hoping its future stars of the baggy-jean age outgrow their hip-hop phase with a year in the hands of a college coach.

Let Bob Knight teach, mold and scold them into scouts. Let Mike Krzyzewski shower them with warm hugs as he transforms them into upstanding Dukies. Let college be the N.B.A.’s fly-by farm system.

Don’t Buy The Realistic : Radiation Poisoning, A Sore Left Thumb, And A Sierra Mist Boycott

Posted in Football, Gridiron, Sports TV at 3:37 pm by

(New England’s Ben Watson kept both feet inbounds on his 2nd TD catch of the day, and the Pats stayed atop the AFC East)

Flipping between the Patriots holding off Gus Frerotte’s 4 chances to tie the game in the final minute in Miami, versus Eli and the Giants’ death-knell comeback against the Vikings (still in progress) has been a little too nerve wracking — every cat and dog in the house has taken shelter in another room, such is the commotion coming from the CSTB lounge.

There’s also the small matter of the LA/New England MLS Cup final, but unless and until ABC decides to a) make such a match available in HD and b) desist from showing ads for Sierra Mist in split-screen (Michael Ian Black sucks, even when he’s only getting half of the TV), I will no longer do my part to put this event’s viewership into the triple digits.

MLS/ABC’s choice of cipher-rockers The Click Five for halftime entertainment was predictably dubious enough, and there’s nothing novel about employing ringers to scream and bounce up and down. But having said paid-cheering section clad in matching Radio Shack t-shirts is tantamount to telling the world “this shitty band has no real fans”.

Though I would ordinarily have no rooting interest in this year’s MLS final, I do find myself pulling for the Galaxy for one simple reason that you should all appreciate : a New England defeat means Robert Kraft won’t be giving a speech.

(UPDATE : Brad Johnson marched Minnesota down field to set up a game winning 48 yard field goal from Doug Edinger. Vikes 24, Giants 21. Eli will pay dearly for his 4 INT’s if Tom Coughlin’s riding crop has anything to say about it.)

Knicks Emerge From Last Place In Atlantic Division

Posted in Basketball at 3:08 pm by

Seattle 126, Raptors 121 (OT)

…temporarily, at least, as the Raptors find themselves tied with the Hawks in the chase for the most ping pong balls.

Buck : Duncan Can’t Cope With Non-Chummy Refs

Posted in Basketball at 2:35 pm by

It isn’t enough for the San Antonio Express’ Buck Harvey to have written “The Graduate” ; he’s also compelled to smear the Spurs’ Tim Duncan (above right, tangling with Brendan Haywood) after an uncharacteristicaly poor showing last night against the Wizards.

What happened Saturday also reminded everyone that a third ring didn’t change Duncan’s tortured reality. He’s still dependent ” perhaps more than any superstar ” on officials who allow him to play his game.

Duncan seems to get more human when the wrong ref walks out. There was one in the crew Saturday, and some in the Spurs’ locker room wonder if Duncan let that get to him. The Wizards bodied him without double teams, pinching him with some athletes, and it was clear in the second quarter that Duncan was frustrated.

Then Duncan went inside, missed and felt he’d been fouled. The Wizards started going the other way, and Duncan reached out to grab a jersey, as he often does, to show the refs exactly what a foul is. But Duncan didn’t tug hard enough, and play continued.

When Parker came up with a steal, scoring on the other end off Daniels to pull the Spurs within two points, Duncan was still in the middle of the floor wanting to argue.

Afterward Duncan dressed quickly as he talked. “Just a long night,” he said. “Those guys played well tonight, give them a lot credit. We compounded it with myself playing very, very badly. It just happens. Balls not bouncing the right way, the whistles not coming.”

That was his only mention of the officiating. But even that one sentence would make a few people smile in Boston. The Celtics were the ones who questioned the calls the night before when they tried to defend Duncan.

That’s the way it is in this game; someone always has a beef. But there are times when this part of the game begins to affect Duncan and change him, too. The Olympics were an example, as was last June. Then he shot 10 of 27 in the first two games in Detroit and followed with a free-throw meltdown in Game 5.

Jackson : Colletti Likely To Become Dodgers GM

Posted in Baseball at 2:05 pm by

From the LA Daily News’ Tony Jackson.

The latest leading candidate for the Dodgers’ general manager vacancy appears to be San Francisco assistant GM Ned Colletti, who was scheduled to interview for the position on Friday and whom an industry source identified on Saturday as the rumored frontrunner.

Colletti, (above) 50, and Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng, 36, might be the only serious candidates left after several high-profile ex-GMs accepted other jobs or showed only tepid interest. As of the middle of last week, former Cleveland and Texas GM John Hart, now a consultant for the Rangers, hadn’t even committed to accepting a face-to-face interview for the job, and Colletti’s late entry into the candidate field likely means Frank McCourt has given up on Hart.

Colletti and Ng have similar credentials, both having been longtime assistant GMs for successful clubs and both being responsible for most of their current teams’ contract negotiations. Ng was part of four World Series teams while with the New York Yankees, and the Giants have made the playoffs in four of the nine seasons with Colletti as the top assistant to GM Brian Sabean.

But two things set Colletti apart. First, he has always negotiated those contracts within the constraints of a payroll budget similar to what the Dodgers are expected to shrink theirs to next season, somewhere in the $75 million to $80 million range. Second, he has a past relationship with Texas pitching coach Orel Hershiser, whom McCourt might already have decided on as the Dodgers’ next manager. Colletti had a hand in signing Hershiser to pitch for the Giants in 1998.

Raissman : Phillips’ Integrity In The Toilet

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 1:59 pm by

This hasn’t been a good week for former Mets GM Steve Phillips. His wooden performances on ESPN’s mock press conferences as the mythical GM of the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers and inexplicably “MLB GM” have been panned far and wide — and when the likes of Will Leitch are saying you look stupid, well, it’s probably time to check yourself.

On a far more serious tip, however, is Phillips’ comments in the most recent issue of ESPN The Magazine, which have the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman questioning the exec-turned-actor’s credibility. (link courtesy Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

While there are few revelations in the piece – it’s corned beef re-hash, so to speak – there is a segment headlined “The Executive,” in which Phillips says that in 1987, while playing for a Mets minor league team in Mississippi, he saw one of his teammates shooting another up with some form of steroid.

Phillips tells the magazine that in 1994, when he was Mets GM, he suspected some players were on the juice. So concerned was Phillips he had some players tested. When the “first of several players flunked,” Phillips “handled it internally.” The story goes on to paint Phillips as someone whose hands were tied on the steroids issue because other – more pressing – baseball matters took precedence.

It’s not surprising Phillips went public with all this in ESPN The Magazine. Phillips’ concern about steroids now has a price tag attached. After all, Phillips never put a public spotlight on steroid abuse in baseball when he was Mets GM.

Nor did he express any outrage for the impact juice was having on the game immediately after he was fired. Only now, when he is picking up a paycheck from ESPN, does Phillips feel motivated to go public.

“The Worse The Knicks Played, The Angrier I Got”

Posted in Basketball at 1:40 pm by

Believe it or not, there is a silver lining to the Knicks’ miserable start, writes the New York Times’ Vincent Mazolli.

The Knicks are not very good these days, so Dr. Arthur Figur (above), the medical director at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, is thinking about moving his stationary bicycle back in front of his television set.

Dr. Arthur Figur did not finish the Ironman World Championship triathlon last month. He finished in 1988 and 1991.

Figur, 74, a longtime runner and outdoors enthusiast, was disappointed when he failed to complete the Ironman World Championship triathlon last month in Hawaii. He is planning a comeback that may include an old training formula involving his favorite team, which he credits for providing the bicycle stamina that made him an accomplished triathlete.

“It was in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s, when they were terrible, that I began training on a stationary bike,” he said. “The worse the Knicks played, the angrier I got, and the harder I pedaled. Well, they kept getting worse and worse, and for years, I just kept pedaling and pedaling, and getting stronger and stronger.”

Figur attributes much of his success to the inspiration he draws from his cancer patients. “They have a fighting attitude and the strength and determination to take on greater challenges than I’ve ever faced on any racecourse,” he said.

So he is getting back on the stationary bike, and with every bad shot taken by the Knicks, with every failure to get back and play defense, and with every bad foul they commit, Arthur Figur will pedal a little bit closer to a possible comeback.

Bringing The Black Hole To The Navajo

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Radio at 12:48 pm by

The SF Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius on an unusual broadcasting initiative by the Oakland Raiders.

(how do you say “these guys are out of their minds” in Navajo?)

The Silver and Black will establish a milestone on Sunday as they play the Denver Broncos in what will be the first Raiders game ever broadcast to the Navajo Nation.

In Navajo.

“Raider Nation and Navajo Nation unite,” says Patty Herrera, director of multicultural initiatives for the Raiders. “It couldn’t be more perfect.”

We could treat this as a quirk, a bit of offbeat NFL trivia, but that’s not how they see it in Window Rock, Ariz., the tribe’s capital. The game will be broadcast on KTNN, a 50,000-watt AM station owned and operated by the Navajo Nation with the goal of keeping a dying language alive in an era when the young people are abandoning their heritage.

“That is a part of the mission, to keep the language alive,” says Ernie Manuelito, who will be in the press box at McAfee Coliseum doing play-by-play with KTNN “sports and rodeo director” L.A. Williams.

Sometimes it seems like uphill work. The elders speak Navajo, but not the kids. But there’s been a commitment to the language, both in the schools — Navajo children often sing the National Anthem and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Navajo — and on KTNN, which broadcasts almost entirely in Navajo.

That may not sound like a big deal, but you have to understand the lay of the land. The Navajo Nation is a sprawling, 24,000-square-mile sovereign nation in the Four Corners area where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona converge. It is home to more than 200,000 people.

Williams, who may be the only female sportscaster broadcasting an NFL game on Sunday, says she doesn’t want to make it sound as if they are living in the sticks. Those who live in Window Rock, Ariz., or Gallup, N.M., watch cable television, surf the Internet and buy Raiders gear at Wal-Mart.

Still, there are many remote homes where, Williams says, “the radio is their life” and their lifeline to the world beyond.

So will they be listening to the game on Sunday?

You bet. The Raiders are, by some accounts, the Navajo Nation’s most popular NFL team.

“I see a lot of Raider stickers and decals,” says Manuelito. “I was at Wal-Mart the other day, and the girl said the three teams that are the most popular are the Raiders, the Broncos and the Dallas Cowboys.”

Geez, I said to Manuelito — unable to resist what I thought was a hilarious one-liner — you wouldn’t think cowboys would be popular on an Indian reservation.

Manuelito managed an extremely polite laugh.

“Yeah,” he said. “I’ve heard that one before.”

O’s Disassociate Themselves From Raffy, Sammy

Posted in Baseball at 12:40 pm by

The following won’t surprise anyone, though it is telling that Baltimore GM Mike Flanagan describes this winter’s free agent crop as “weaker, thinner”. From the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly.

The Orioles made the inevitable official yesterday, saying they will not be bringing back outfielder Sammy Sosa or first baseman Rafael Palmeiro.

“At this point, we are heading in a different direction,” club executive vice president Mike Flanagan said.

Palmeiro and Sosa, who were featured on the cover of the Orioles’ 2005 media guide along with shortstop Miguel Tejada, have indicated that they would like to return to baseball in 2006.

Meanwhile, Flanagan said he felt that last week’s major league general managers meetings were productive in formulating his plans to improve the club.

“I would say a lot of groundwork was established in a lot of different directions with clubs and agents,” Flanagan said. “We had a very heavy schedule.”

He estimated that the Orioles’ front office met with about 20 major league clubs and representatives of about “40 to 50″ free agents to discuss options.

Among those he talked to were agents for pitchers A.J. Burnett, Kevin Millwood, Paul Byrd and Jarrod Washburn, as well as hitters Ramon Hernandez, Bengie Molina and Nomar Garciaparra.

Heyman, Rhoden : Set T.O. Free

Posted in Gridiron at 11:48 am by

Though I’m hopeful this will be the last Terrell Owens-related entry here for at least a day, I thought I’d share the following quotes from Newsday’s Jon Heyman (in Sunday’s paper) and the NY Times’ William Rhoden (writing on Saturday).

Heyman :

It’s easy to see why the Eagles are acting spitefully. But the right thing to do is to release Owens. They were fine with him when he played superbly in the Super Bowl on a broken leg and while Owens is no team man, there’s no evidence he did anything to warrant a unilaterally-imposed $800,000 suspension and subsequent deactivation.

The ultra-weak NFL Players Association has a winning case here … if only it can take time out from massaging Paul Tagliabue’s feet.

Rhoden :

Owens may well be everything he has been called: self-centered for his touchdown celebrations; divisive for chiding his quarterback, Donovan McNabb; and disrespectful for criticizing the Eagles organization.

He is, however, also a member of the National Football League Players Association. If the union has any pride – or guts – left, Owens will fly again and play again this season. But I’m not sure that the association, under Gene Upshaw, has much pride or fortitude left.

As bold and brave as they are on Sunday, N.F.L. players are weak when it comes to standing up and protecting their own Monday through Saturday. And how can they? They play under a system that offers no security and little protection.

If the union lets Philadelphia get away with this, Upshaw should decertify his association, once and for all, and focus his energies on throwing the union’s annual Super Bowl party.

Baseball’s union would never – NEVER – allow one of its players to be publicly flogged the way the Eagles are flogging Owens. Say what you will about Donald Fehr, but baseball’s owners think three or four times before they take on the union he runs.

Football owners don’t give it a second thought. Teams cut players with impunity. They bring them in, kick them out, manipulate them like puppets and keep them ever grateful.

This is what Owens, whether he intended to or not, is railing against: a contractual system that leaves the players in the most consistently brutal team sport with the least protection.

Vescey On Brown’s Talking Contradictions

Posted in Basketball at 11:40 am by

Peter Vescey in Sunday’s NY Post, keeping track of Knicks coach Larry Brown’s ever-changing moods.

One day Brown’s applauding the advent of Eddy Curry, next day he’s bemoaning the instability of the Knicks’ staring lineup. Alas, Larry, if we’re to sign on to his sincerity, was eager to start the season with a fortified front line of Jesse James, Michael Sweetney and “Timmy” Thomas and was deprived of that glorious opportunity.

Following Wednesday charming collapse in Portland, Brown says publicly what he’s been saying privately to Isiah Thomas: His reconstruction job should be condemned. Well, not quite. It’s too early to go to that extreme, at least for publication/attribution.

Actually, Brown said the roster is “unbalanced,” the backcourt is devoid of a prudent playmaker, and he’s obliged to play Quentin Richardson and Jamal Crawford out of position. Brown interrupts programming early and often to stress to his rapt listening audience that, ah shucks, “I could be doing a lot better job than I’m doing, too.”

After Friday’s enchanting evening in Oakland, the Knicks remained winless and witless at 0-5. Again, Brown was playing “Change That Tune.” He denies undercutting Isiah, denies hinting his hastily convened assembly is flawed.

“If anything needs to done, maybe they should find a new coach,” he declared with a finger-painted straight face prior to consulting with President Bush about an honorable exit strategy.

I suspect we should take that to mean Brown feels Richardson is on the wrong team. No disrespect to Isiah, of course, for making him part of a team moderately incapable of taking advantage of his 3-point stroke or post up powers.

“I don’t think he’s in great shape,” Brown said Friday, noting Quentin missed the majority of training camp due to injury. “He’s just trying to find himself. We’ve just got to find ways to help him.”

Help Richardson find a new home, Brown meant to say. That can be done. Moving Marbury is the predicament. If Brown couldn’t get him off his Dream Team, how he’s ever going to get off his Bad Dream Team?


Sheehan : Thumbs Down On Milledge

Posted in Baseball at 11:44 pm by

With Mets prospect Lastings Milledge representing a potential chip to in any major deal Omar Minaya is considering, the outfielder’s potential is naturally the source of conjecture. After a visit to the Arizona Fall League, Baseball Prospectus’ Joe Sheehan seems to have made up his mind.

The people who like him really like him. Me, I see a guy who looks smaller than advertised, and who doesn’t have the speed for center field, the plate discipline to be a great hitter or the power to make you not care about the other two things. True story: When we submitted our names for last year’s Top 50 Prospects, which each writer does based on the teams he covers for the book, I didn’t even submit Milledge. He was eventually added, but I remain unimpressed.

T-Mac Toys With Nets

Posted in Basketball at 9:33 pm by

Rockets 99, Nets 91

After watching Tracy McGrady dominate New Jersey to the tune of 20 fourth quarter points — on some occasions with Nets draped all over him — there’s really only one way Lawrence Frank can solve the problem before NJ visits Houston later in the year.

But it’s probably too late tonight to schedule a party at Jayson Williams’ house.

Janikowski Has Big Shoes To Fill

Posted in Gridiron at 6:18 pm by

Crazy big.

Cole Ford’s tale has been mentioned previously at CSTB, but if you’re like me, you can never get enough of guys who’ve tried to assassinate Siegfried & Roy.

Spurrier Smirkfest To Continue Unabated

Posted in Gridiron at 5:20 pm by

(if he keeps this up, someday Steve Spurrier will be able to afford an entire hat)

For those of us who thought South Carolina would struggle to win 5 games this year, the Gamecocks’ 30-22 win at no. 12 Florida is further confirmation that Steve Spurrier — much like Rick Pitino in basketball, Bela Karolyi in gymnastics or Col. Kenneth R. Strickland in the training of armed combat — is a world class coach. Though I’ll be more impressed if he finds a way to come back to the NFL and beats Dan Synder’s Redskins. Actually, forget about impressed, satisfied is more like it.

No. 2 Texas are currently leading Kansas, 59-14. I certainly hope Mark Mangino’s post-game press conference addresses the biased officiating and the massive conspiracy designed to propell the Longhorns into the Rose Bowl, though who knew Mangino’s special teams were in on the fix?

In reference to this afternoon’s Bowden Bowl, I’m not gonna regurgitate the joke about how its a shame there wasn’t a way both teams could lose. Rather, I think it is a shame that both coaches weren’t devoured by sharks.

Chris Bostic, a landscaper and military vet, won a $1 million prize at halftime of the Florida State/Clemson game when he threw a 25 yard pass through a 20 inch hole.

There’s no truth to the rumor the San Francisco 49ers have ruled out approaching Bostic (above) on the grounds he’s overqualified.

Harvard beat Penn today, though I can’t remember much else. Jon Solomon claims that Jon Sterling was calling the game (which I somehow spaced on — perhaps I’ll turn the volume up next time). First they let Jesse Ventura give a speech at Harvard, now this. The Ivy League is really going to hell.

Killing Time With The Raptors’ Rose

Posted in Basketball at 3:23 pm by

(prior to last night’s loss to Utah, Toronto mascot Raptor — who escaped the draft by fleeing to Canada during the Vietnam War — honors military vets Anne Wood and Duncan Graham, both of whom had been promised free Maple Leafs tickets)

An assignment to the Raptors beat is the journalistic equivalent of turning lemons into lemonade for the Toronto Star’s unflappable Dave Feschuk.

On a day when the latest in the continuing series of Rose-related trade speculation was printed in these pages, Rose’s cell phones ” two of which were visible in the vicinity of his locker, even if he was not ” were ringing off the hook.

The Raptors, of course, hadn’t won a game since phones had hooks. So with confidence down all around, Rose seemed at least a little flattered by the attention.
“When you’re my age, there’s people younger than me that are retired and there’s players my age that (aren’t) in the league,” said the 32-year-old swingman. “So I guess it always means something when somebody thinks you could help a team.”

Exactly what will help the Raptors is anyone’s guess ” and no one is taking wilder stabs in the dark than a coaching staff that isn’t exactly making a name for itself by overcoming the club’s obvious personnel deficiencies. The optimists figured last night was the game that would turn the season-opening four-game losing streak into a one-game winning one. The Jazz are rebuilding, after all. But the Raptors, after a decent start, gave up a 15-0 second-quarter run that vaulted the Jazz into a cushy lead. And soon the over-riding feeling of this young season ” the feeling that the Raptors haven’t got a hope in heck of beating their opponent du jour ” had taken over the lifeless Air Canada Centre.

The young players, at least, are getting an education on being a Raptor in rough times. Last night Morris Peterson offered an introductory course on delivering a play-me-or-trade-me tirade.
And Rose set a fine example in dealing with theoretical talk of a swap, being non-committal but quotable in equal measures.

Rose’s would-be destination is New York, home to one of the few clubs financially equipped to absorb his $15.9 million (all figures U.S.) salary and send back a package. So, how would Rose enjoy playing for Larry Brown, a coach who frequently benched the player when they co-inhabited Indiana?

“Can’t speculate. I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth either way,” Rose said. “I ain’t going to get into that either way.”

For Rose, who is not a part of this club’s future and hardly enthused about its present, Toronto is a place to pass time, and last night he, like a lot of Raptors, played like it. As the losses mount ” as it becomes more and more evident that Rose’s usefulness as a go-to scorer might be the difference between, say, a 25-win season and a 20-win one ” the likelihood increases that he’ll finish the season elsewhere. This morning’s standings say almost anywhere but here is a better place.

Yanks Courting Giles, Matsui Talks Continue

Posted in Baseball at 1:05 pm by

From the NY Daily News’ Bill Madden and Anthony McCarron.

There was a pause of sorts in the Yankees’ negotiations with left fielder Hideki Matsui yesterday as GM Brian Cashman spent most of the day flying back from the GM meetings in California. But before he left, Cashman made contact again with the agent for another outfielder, Brian Giles, who could be developing into a candidate to take over for Bernie Williams in center field.

The Yankees aren’t the only suitors for Giles (above). According to various media reports, the Indians and Mariners think highly of the 34-year-old, who hit .301 with 15 homers and 83 RBI for the Padres this year.

Meanwhile, Matsui’s agent, Arn Tellem, is slated to fly to New York today and meet with his client either tonight or tomorrow. The Yankees and Matsui have a self-imposed deadline of Tuesday to get a contract done, though the sides could extend the cutoff date. Matsui could make a decision Monday or Tuesday.

Matsui could command a deal somewhere in the four-year, $48 million-$50 million range.

One contract that has been used as a yardstick by Tellem, a baseball source said, is the five-year, $55 million deal the Dodgers gave J.D. Drew last year. The source said Tellem at first asked for a five-year contract, and the Yankees were talking about three years, but they appear to be willing to explore middle ground.

If the Yankees don’t sign Giles to play center, they could be running out of options. They were rebuffed by the White Sox about a trade for Aaron Rowand, who dazzled with his glove in Chicago’s only visit to the Stadium this year.

Talented and troubled Milton Bradley could be a choice, but the Dodgers believe there will be an active trade market for him, a source said. It’s believed that five other teams are interested – the A’s, Cubs, Nationals, Pirates and Tigers. Jim Tracy, Bradley’s former manager with the Dodgers, is now the Pirates’ skipper and he thinks highly of the 27-year-old’s talent.

I guess we can assume Johnny Damon isn’t a possibility, though the Red Sox have yet to retain their center fielder.

Mariners Competing With Mets For Jojima, Huff

Posted in Baseball at 12:39 pm by

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Jon Paul Morosi reports the Mariners have expressed strong interest in two of the Mets’ alleged offseason targets, Japanese free agent C Kenji Jojima and Devil Rays OF Aubrey Huff.

Jojima and his agent, Alan Nero, had dinner with Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, COO Chuck Armstrong and international scout Hide Sueyoshi. The evening was “not a negotiation session,” Nero said, contradicting a local media report that a deal had been finalized.

“We’re not even close,” Nero said. “We’re just dating. Everyone wants us to get married. We’re just trying to get to know each other.”

Jojima toured Seattle during the day, with an eye toward gauging the city’s livability for his young family. Nero, who also represents phenom Felix Hernandez, said Jojima’s trip is “75 percent family, 25 percent baseball.”

Jojima, who was unavailable for comment Friday, will address his free agency in a Tuesday news conference at Nero’s Chicago-area office. Asked if Jojima could sign a contract before he leaves Seattle at the end of the weekend, Nero said, “We haven’t even started talking money yet, so it would be presumptuous to assume that. But anything’s possible.”

If you’re getting dizzy trying to keep track of which way free agent 1B Paul Konerko might be leaning, Jay Strell recommends the Chicago Tribune’s Konerkometer, which I’ll be checking at least twice an hour.

Kiss Bassist Sued, Gene Simmons Toyota Braces For Fallout

Posted in The Law at 11:44 am by

Staff at New Jersey’s premier Toyota dealership cannot be happy about this. From the Associated Press’ Samuel Maull.

A woman who claims to be a former girlfriend of KISS rocker Gene Simmons can proceed with a defamation lawsuit in which she says he made her sound like a “sex-addicted nymphomaniac” during a VH1 television show, a judge has ruled.

State Supreme Court Justice Rosalyn Richter denied Simmons’ motion to dismiss two of three claims by Georgeann Walsh Ward, 53, who says in court papers made public Friday that Simmons slandered her during a “rockumentary” about KISS.

Ward said in her lawsuit, filed in January, that photos of her appeared 11 times during the report on KISS, which was shown on the network several times in July and August. In it, Simmons claimed to have had sexual encounters with 4,600 women.

The documentary, “When KISS Ruled The World,” chronicled the band’s 30-year career, its impact on rock music and the quartet’s “wild” antics. The other band members were guitarist/singer Paul Stanley, drummer Peter Criss, and guitarist Ace Frehley.

Simmons says during the show, “There wasn’t a girl that was off limits, and I enjoyed every one of them,” Ward’s court papers say.

At another point Simmons says, “I was a 24-hour whore. All I ever thought about was sex.” This, court papers say, was shown and followed by a photo of Ward with Simmons.

Ward’s papers say that because a photo of her with Simmons — though her name is never mentioned — was shown during remarks about his sexual adventures, she was in effect portrayed as “wild” and “unchaste.”

Incredibly, in the midst of all this litigation, no one has thought of suing the Kissfits.

Knicks At 0-5, Larry Brown Sets Landspeed Record

Posted in Basketball at 11:27 am by

Warriors 86, Knicks 84

On an evening in which Jamal Crawford and Stephon Marbury performed competently, the tandem of Eddy Curry (above) and Channing Frye provided some strength at center and overall, the Knicks showed a rare bit of tenacity on defense…New York still proved themselves to be utterly hopeless during the final moments of a close game.

I can’t groan too much about Crawford taking the ball to the hole in the final seconds — the possibility of drawing a foul seemed high enough, were it not for Baron Davis stripping the ball. And Davis’ 12 assists did plenty to kill the Knicks when he clearly didn’t have his touch from the field.

Other than being startled to see that Penny Hardaway is still alive, I don’t want to fall prey crazy exaggeration. I realize the Knicks don’t really have 6 guards who can’t run the offense, but it often feels that way. Much has been written about Larry Brown’s early attempts to establish a rotation and figure out who is capable of what, but would it be unfair to suggest that the preseason should’ve provided such an opportunity?

For an old guy with serious health issues, Brown made a hell of a move for the tunnel once the buzzer went off. I’m pretty sure Larry could take Jerome James in a 100 yard dash, though such a contest would be far too risky. For James, that is.

England’s Sporting Day : An Embarrassment Of Riches Or 3 Opportunities To Complain

Posted in Cricket, Football, Sports Journalism at 8:04 am by

Day 1 of England’s Test Match at Pakistan, the Rugby Union international against Australia and this afternoon’s football friendly with Argentina represent a televised smogasboard…of potential disappointment, writes the Times’ Rick Broadbent.

Today, masochists can reacquaint themselves with the pain that is watching England. A televisual marathon embracing the cricket, rugby union and football teams will have some people debating whether they would be better served by turning over to œCelebrity Bird Flu. But the game™s afoot.

œFollow your spirit, and upon this charge/Cry ™God for Harry, England and Charlie George! The trouble with England is that heroic failure has become such a part of daily life that anything more is frowned upon.

But those dissolute buggers, the cricket and rugby teams, have bucked the trend and started winning things. The consequence is, where we once expected little and were at ease with our disappointment, expectations are now at odds with a history of mediocrity. England expects that every man will do his duty, and that includes Peter Crouch.

Women of a certain age love to moan about the weather, men of a certain age love to moan about Geoff Thomas™s scuffed shot against France. Call it the Dunkirk spirit, the camaraderie that comes only from shared pain. England does expect every man to do his duty, but it reserves the right to be morally indignant about it afterwards.

But, as Blair said, it is better to lose and do the right thing than to outjump Peter Shilton and then blame it on an ineligible deity. And nobody loses like England, all metatarsals and melodrama.

Winning is different. We are rookies and cannot handle it, assuming there was some hidden reason for this anomaly. Take the Ashes. No sooner had England™s cricketers taken the upper hand in the series than seasoned commentators began to write that the Australians were an ageing team in decline. Strangely, none of these experts had voiced such an opinion when they were predicting an Australia whitewash. In truth, the Ashes was a tortuous triumph, won effectively by a single shot at Edgbaston, but England does not cater for fine margins and middle ground. So we were brilliant and the Aussies were useless.